British Rail Class 322

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British Rail Class 322
An original Class 322 at Stansted Airport.
In service 1990–present
Manufacturer BREL York
Family name BR Second Generation (Mark 3)
Constructed 1990
Refurbishment 2005–07
Hunslet-Barclay, Kilmarnock[1]
Number built 5 trainsets
Formation 4 cars per trainset
Fleet numbers 322481 - 322485
Capacity 309 seats per unit[2]
Operator(s) Northern
Width 2.82 m (9 ft 3 in)[3]
Height 3.78 m (12 ft 4 78 in)[3]
Maximum speed 100 mph (161 km/h)
Weight Total - 141.8 t (139.6 long tons)[3]
Electric system(s) 25 kV 50 Hz AC overhead
Braking system(s) Air (Westcode)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 322 electric multiple units were built by British Rail Engineering Limited in 1990[3] for the dedicated Stansted Express service from London Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport. After becoming surplus to requirements on this route, the fleet saw short periods of use on various different routes around the country. The fleet is operated by Northern and can be seen working services around the Leeds area.


The original interior of the Stansted Express Class 322

In 1987, British Rail (BR) was extending the electrification north from London Liverpool Street towards Cambridge. Included in this plan was the construction of new branch line, diverging from the mainline at Stansted Mountfitchet, to serve the newly built Stansted Airport, which opened in 1991. Therefore, BR decided to build a dedicated fleet of units to work the new Stansted Express service.

To reduce costs, the Class 322 units were built to the same design as the successful Class 321 units, which were still under construction for services on the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) and West Coast Main Line (WCML). Although the Stansted route falls under the jurisdiction of Network SouthEast (NSE), the units were delivered into service in a special white livery with a broad green band, instead of the more usual NSE blue/red/white livery.

The units are fitted with Tightlock couplers. This allows them to work in multiple with Class 313, Class 314, Class 317, Class 318, Class 320 and Class 321 units, as well as units of the same class.

Five 4-car units were built, numbered 322481-485. Each unit consisted of two outer driving trailers, an intermediate trailer, and an intermediate motor. The technical description of the formation of each unit is DTCO+TSO+MSO+DTSO. Individual vehicles are numbered as follows:

  • 78163-78167 - DTCO
  • 72023-72027 - TSO
  • 63137-63141 - MSO
  • 77985-77989 - DTSO

The units were also the last of a long line of BR multiple units to be based on the Mark 3 bodyshell design.

Current operations[edit]


Northern Rail class 322 EMU 322482 departs Leeds with a service to Doncaster.

The Class 322s operate services with Northern and are used to provide services between Leeds and Doncaster as well as the Leeds-Skipton-Bradford-Ilkley "Triangle".

Small technical changes have been made in order for them to be used in the area. These include forward-facing CCTV and saloon CCTV installation and electronic LED destination displays and automatic GPS based announcing system (as per the Class 321/9 units). The GSM-R radio systems have also been disabled in order for the units to operate in the Yorkshire regions due to the GSM-R system not being activated in the area yet. The NRN radios still exist and will continue to function for 2 years as a back-up system to the GSM-R once it comes into effect. After this time the NRN system will be removed and all units will be equipped with a single GSM-R radio in each driving cab.[citation needed]

In early 2016 it was confirmed that Spanish rolling stock manufacturer CAF are to construct the new electric Class 331 trains which are planned to operate in West Yorkshire to replace Class 321 and Class 322 trains and work alongside the current fleet of Class 333 units.[citation needed]

Former operations[edit]

West Anglia Great Northern[edit]

322485 at London Liverpool Street on 1 August 2004

Following privatisation, the fleet passed into control of the West Anglia Great Northern (WAGN) franchise. At the same time, services were rebranded as the Stansted Skytrain.

Units continued to be used on these services until 1997, when they became common-user with the rest of the WAGN fleet. After this, it was common for units to turn up on London King's Cross to Peterborough services. Four of the five units were subsequently hired to North Western Trains.

One of the two NWT blue units, no. 322485, was repainted back into Stansted Skytrain livery. However, on return to WAGN, they did not have any specific duties to work, as dedicated rebuilt Class 317/7 units were introduced to the Stansted Airport services in 2000. The Class 322 fleet therefore remained non-standard in WAGN's fleet, so in 2001 all five units were hired to ScotRail, who operated similar Class 320 units. The class was transferred north to Scotland in two batches under their own power, routed via the West Coast Main Line.


National Express East Anglia or one, operated a set from 2004. In late 2005, the set was transferred to First ScotRail.

North Western Trains[edit]

In the period 1997 to 1999, North Western Trains (NWT) hired four units from WAGN for a new Manchester Airport to London Euston service. Two of the units, nos. 322484 and 322485, were repainted into NWT's blue and gold livery, whilst the other two unspecified units remained in the revised Stansted Skytrain livery.

These services did not last long, and by 1999 the units had returned to WAGN.

First ScotRail[edit]

In 2001, the units were then used by First ScotRail, operating on the North Berwick Branch Line, between Glasgow Central/Edinburgh Waverley and North Berwick having been made redundant on WAGN services. They were transferred north to Scotland and were put to work allowing the elderly incumbent Class 305 units to be withdrawn. One morning and one evening peak service was provided to Glasgow Central via the relatively quiet Edinburgh-Carstairs branch of the WCML to allow the units to receive maintenance at Glasgow Shields depot as First ScotRail's facilities in Edinburgh at Haymarket and Slateford depots are for diesel traction only.

The units continued to be used on these services until mid-2004, when the hire period ended. They were transferred south in two batches, and were replaced on the North Berwick branch by EWS Class 90 electric locomotives hauling former Virgin Trains Mk.3 coaching stock. To enable trains to reverse, the locomotive operates in push-pull mode with a Driving Van Trailer.

In mid-late 2005, the units were transferred back to Scotland for refurbishment prior to reintroduction on the North Berwick line, which was expected to be their permanent use.[4] In Spring 2006, the first unit to be refurbished and repainted in the First ScotRail livery was unveiled.[1][4] The class were refurbished at Hunslet-Barclay, Kilmarnock, from end of 16 July 2005 until end of 9 February 2007.[1] 322481 was the first one repainted, and it took up the name that 485 owned when they previously operated the route. The remaining units were refurbished and repainted into First ScotRail livery.[1][4] However, one unit, no. 322481, was named North Berwick Flyer, 1850–2000.[4]

In 2010 with the introduction of Class 380 "Desiro", the North Berwick Line had a fleet replacement and began operations in June 2011. The last service operated by a Scotrail Class 322 was the 0756 North Berwick-Glasgow Central service on 2 August 2011 and all units have since been transferred to Northern Rail.

Fleet details[edit]

Unit Number Current Livery Vehicle Numbers Current Operator
322481 Northern blue 78163 72023 63137 77985 Northern
322482 78164 72024 63138 77986
322483 78165 72025 63139 77987
322484 78166 72026 63140 77988
322485 78167 72027 63141 77989


  1. ^ a b c d "Class 322 Refurbishment 05-07". Retrieved 14 February 2011. 
  2. ^ "THE NORTHERN INTERIM FRANCHISE AGREEMENT" (PDF). Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Class 322 Technical data". TheRailwayCentre.Com. Retrieved 14 February 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d First ScotRail unvil refurbished Class 322 - Railway Herald. Page 3. 2006-04-07. Issue 36. Retrieved 2011-09-11.

External links[edit]